What Are Cataracts

What Are Cataracts

Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide and the number one cause of poor vision in the U.S. In fact:

  • More than half of Americans age 65 and older have a cataract, and it is thought that nearly everyone will develop one if they live long enough.
  • The total number of people who will have cataracts is estimated to rise to more than 30 million by 2020.

A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye. The lens is responsible for focusing light rays on the retina at the back of the eye to produce a sharp image of what we see. When the lens becomes cloudy, the light rays cannot pass easily through it, and the image becomes blurry. Cataracts usually develop as part of the aging process but can also come from eye injuries, systemic diseases, certain medications and genetic inheritance.

The good news is cataracts are correctable. If your vision is only a little blurry, the cataract may need no treatment at all. Sometimes changing your eyeglass prescription may improve your vision for awhile. However, if a change in eyeglasses does not help, you may need cataract surgery. There are no medications, eye drops, exercises or glasses that will cause cataracts to disappear once they have formed. When you are not able to see well enough to do the things you like to do, cataract surgery should be considered. It is the only way to remove a cataract.

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